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Nordicana

February 2nd, 2014 (09:49 pm)

So, I've just spent the weekend at Nordicana, a celebration of Scandinavian crime fiction (TV, film and literature), held at the Old Truman Brewery in London.

I'm glad I made the decision to stay at a nearby hotel, as I don't think I'd have coped with commuting in from Hemel on both days. As it was, the hotel I was at was surprisingly close to the venue (more so than my maps app suggested, but then hey, that's Apple maps for you...), although further than I'd've liked from the nearest tube station, Shoreditch High Street - trudging there in the rain at nighttime on Friday evening was rather an unpleasant experience...), no more than a few minutes easy walk each way. On the other hand, I arrived on the Saturday morning, an hour after the advertised "doors open" time, to find a massive queue snaking round the block. I'm not sure exactly what had gone wrong, but over the weekend there was sort of a continuing theme of it not seeming terribly well organised - which was a great shame, because the event itself was good fun. It just seems like the organisers (who in fairness are primarily a DVD company) don't have much experience organising conventions. I hope they can maybe get some people on board who can offer that sort of experience, because it's so unusual to find conventions, either specific or general, that fall outside of the science fiction and/or fantasy genre, that it would be nice if this one runs a while.

My main - indeed so far exclusive - experience of the ScandiNoir genre (or whatever it's actually called) has been The Bridge, which I've been absolutely loving (if you've not seen it, do check it out, it's a marvellous series, gripping, full of lovely twists and turns, well-acted, tense, dramatic and humorous), so the key selling point was the presence of its two main stars, Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia, and a preview on the Saturday of series 2 episode 9 (which wouldn't be actually broadcast until later that evening on BBC4). I started out the day in a panel called "Building Borgen", which despite not having seen the programme it was about (although it and The Killing are both on my "list of things to check out") I found very interesting. Creator Adam Price was a particularly interesting interviewee.

Unfortunately, the auditorium was rather packed - all the seats were taken, and people were standing pretty much to the walls. However, after that panel ended, I was able to work my way closer to the front and actually get a seat. Which was appreciated.

The next item was the The Bridge episode 9 preview, which was due to start at 1:00pm, but ended up not starting until at least half an hour later, for reasons that weren't adequately explored (although I think tech issues were involved...another area in which this convention could have seriously benefited from the team who man other conventions I've been to). Still, it was a very gripping episode, and particularly enjoyable watching it in a room full of goodness-knows-how-many other fans. That was followed by a Q&A featuring Sofia and Kim.

After that, I called it a day for Saturday - I had considered going to a couple of panels about The Killing, but I figured as I've not seen it yet it might be a bit silly going to panels about it! Mind you, I did pop round the dealers room, where I picked up The Bridge seasons 1 & 2, Borgen seasons 1 - 3 and The Killing seasons 1 - 3. So I've no excuse for not getting round to watching them now! I also took a photo of the Porsche from The Bridge that was on display outside the venue. Headed back to the hotel, where I had a nap, and then in the evening I went out to the nearby (very pleasantly nearby!) Nando's for dinner. Back at the hotel I watched the final episode of the current series of The Bridge, which was a very satisfying end to the series (we are promised that a third series is in the works).

Sadly, I was kept awake for a large chunk of the night by tummy troubles, which left me feeling a bit rubbish when I woke up this morning! Still, I was determined to enjoy the second day of the convention - I started out by going to the UK premiere of a film called The Hour of the Lynx, starring Sofie Gråbøl (of The Killing fame), which was...not an easy watch, but certainly a good film. That was followed by a panel which was actually a repeat of one I'd decided to miss out on yesterday, novelist David Hewson discussing his adaptations of the three series of The Killing (I remember seeing one of them in a shop in Luton a while back and being intrigued that they'd released a novel of it). Despite the whole lack-of-experience-of-The-Killing thing, it was an interesting discussion. And prompted me to buy the three novels (and indeed to get them signed by Mr Hewson).

After that, time for the bit I'd really been looking forward to - The Bridge signing - there'd been a lottery for priority tickets, and I'd been lucky enough to win one for today, so there was no way I was missing this! Sadly, Kim Bodnia couldn't make it (I got the impression that he was unwell), but Sofia Helin was there, signing away, chatting away, cheerfully posing for photos with fans. I know it's called acting (!), but it's startling how different she is from the character she plays (anyone who know The Bridge will know what her character is like...just imagine someone as opposite to that as possible, and you've got Sofia!).

I decided to pass on the screening of series 2 episode 10 of The Bridge, partly as I'd seen it already, partly because I doubted the following Q&A would tell me anything yesterday's hadn't, and mostly because I fancied trying to get back home while it was still light (which, thanks to a cab back to Euston, I managed easily).

So yes, a good convention, but certainly there are some organisational issues (and possibly a change of venue) which need to be sorted out before the hopeful Nordicana 2015...

Some pics:





Kim and Sofia waiting to go on stage for the Q&A.



And again - better picture of Kim in this one.



The Porsche.



Me and Sofia. Smiles all round!



ETA: Also, the haunting theme tune to the programme, Hollow Talk by Choir of Young Believers:

Comments

Posted by: Roobarb (roobarb)
Posted at: February 2nd, 2014 11:01 pm (UTC)

We've been three times to the Old Truman Brewery, there have always been queues round the block, I think it's the venue that causes this. How were the toilets for you there, we hate them.

We've stayed in the area but now stay near st pancras so we can dump cases on arrival and don't need to transport them on the tube

We go there for the coffee festival around Easter, it's good

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: February 2nd, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
books

Oh, I am so jealous!

You have a real treat in store with Borgen and The Killing(s).

I've read David Hewson's novelisation of season 1 of The Killing and found it very interesting -- the dialogue is extremely accurate, but he also tells you what the characters are thinking (which I believe he based on interviews with the actors), and he adds a hint of attraction between Sara Lund and one of the other characters (which I know, from reading an interview with Sofie Gråbøl, is something that was considered when they were making the programme, but rejected). He also makes an important change to the plot, but I won't say what!

If you haven't seen The Tunnel, which is a remake of the first series of The Bridge, btw, that's actually worth a look, too -- much, much better than the usual remake, mainly due to Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy.

Posted by: Zoefruitcake (zoefruitcake)
Posted at: February 4th, 2014 08:22 pm (UTC)

I would have loved to have gone to that!

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